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Saturday, September 27, 2014

The move back to Deep Ellum

A recent article on the D Magazine site begins:

Sometimes simple ideas are the best ones. It’s not a path that Dallas often follows. But there are some developers who are beginning to see that maybe the best way to make Dallas a great city is by tweaking what we already have.

If you read my post yesterday about our opening a new store, you'll realize that, on a personal level, those words describe our thinking about moving back to Deep Ellum. What we had there was simple and good. All we're going to do in the new store is tweak that a little.

Interestingly and not coincidentally, the D Magazine article is about the boom Deep Ellum is poised to experience. Developer Scott Rohrman bought up 27 buildings and 13 parking lots in the area and is in the process of transforming the neighborhood. His plan is to create a pedestrian-friendly urban destination that will attract locals and visitors alike..,one that respects the history and the 100-year-old architecture of the neighborhood.

Deep Ellum was developed in the late 1880s as one of the first commercial districts for African Americans and European immigrants. The neighborhood still boasts a number of historically significant buildings, one of which was designed by William Sydney Pittman, Texas's first black architect and the son-in-law of Booker T. Washington. 

However, Deep Ellum was best known as a hotspot for jazz and blues, hosting musicians the likes of 
Blind Lemon Jefferson, Huddie “Leadbelly” Ledbetter, Texas Bill Day and Bessie Smith. From 1920 till 1950 cafes and nightclubs dotted every block of the area.

By 1956, the neighborhood began to suffer. Streetcar service ended, as many people had cars and had headed to the suburbs. By 1969, a large section of the area was obliterated by Central Expressway, and Deep Ellum was in serious decline.

A group of young artists and musicians moved into Deep Ellum in the 1980s and 1990s, and in 2009, a light rail station connected the area with downtown, bringing even more visitors back to the neighborhood. Now, Rohrman's project promises to give Deep Ellum a chance to experience its best days yet.

And Mid2Mod is going to be right in the middle of it.

From and

Harlem Theater - Deep Ellum

Proposed pedestrian alley through old radiator factory

Proposed outdoor seating


  1. This not only sounds exciting, but it sounds like more cities should follow suit. I am saddened when I read about towns and cities, or even see it first-hand, tear down good old interesting buildings to be replaced with parking lots or new unattractive buildings.

    1. Dallas and Fort Worth did plenty of tearing down in post-World War II years, and if they hadn't, we wouldn't have some of the great mid-century architecture that's here. Progress is good, but in the past decade or two both cities have realized the importance of their historical districts. A tremendous amount of money has been put into revitalizing Fort Worth's downtown area, as well as its historic Stockyards, and now the same is about to be true for Deep Ellum in Dallas. We're very excited to be there again.

  2. Very exciting news, Dana! I love the history of these areas and I'm so glad that they aren't all being lost to developers that want to destroy every historical element there is left to enjoy. When I hear names of the jazz musicians I get transported back in time...I LOVE those names and the images they bring to my mind. I'm thrilled for you! I hope I can see it one day.

    1. Road trip!!! Like you Tina, I think that many developers lack any sense of the importance of preserving history. I'm betting Scott Rohrman will prove himself to be a shrewd businessman for taking advantage of the history in Deep Ellum.

  3. Sounds exciting! In Richmond the old tobacco warehouses have been turned into apartments and condos.
    The historic canal has been restored and life is returning to the area.

    1. It's good to hear that more and more cities are restoring their historic districts. They're finally figuring out that it's economically advantageous.